Directed by Emmanuel Itier
Attila would make a perfect double feature with the 2004 then Sci-Fi Channel fiasco Skeleton Man. That flick boasted a deranged Native American warrior that returns from the dead as a skeletal nemesis decked out in the sort of cheap skeleton mask you could buy at corner drug store around Halloween and a black cloak that looked to be made of the same material as Hefty trash bags. Michael Rooker and Casper Van Dien were amongst the inept soldiers retreading Predator until the final showdown within a secret government facility. Attila is far less Ed Woods-ian in nature than that disastrous production but no less ridiculous.
Despite the title, The Asylum’s Attila is actually more about Attila the Hun’s son and greatest warrior, Sumatra. He gets resurrected by the military from what looks like a giant chunk of charcoal by means far too preposterous to go into. There’s a whole lotta ‘splaining going on in this one and the gist of it has to do with the ancient Staff of Moses that was broken into three pieces and when reassembled to look like a walking cane a horror movie host would wield can grant immortality. Just not the good kind of immortality: the resurrected seem to only come back as either zombie-faced superhuman warriors or superhuman warriors that act like mindless zombies.
Did someone say “superhuman warriors” and “immortality”? You just know there has to be an unscrupulous military commander wanting this power to create an army of superhuman soldiers, amongst other nefarious purposes.
By the time this one is over there will have been enough ancient supernatural mumbo jumbo and governmental conspiracy gobbeldygook to fill an entire week’s worth of programming on the History Channel. Only thing missing was some sort of “Ancient Aliens” tie-in.
There will also be a most fascinating discussion about how what brand of bubble gum you prefer dictates your personality in what to be the most amazing fusion of genre action, military tactics, and chewing gum since G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’s “Double Bubble” obsession.
UFC fighter Cheick Kongo makes what may be his acting debut as the resurrected warrior dressed in his finest barbarian garb complete with a black Egyptian-style hood. I was never quite sure if his crusty corpse face was created via make-up effects or if he was just wearing a mask. Either or, they couldn’t afford a full body makeover so only his face appeared zombie-like while the rest of his exposed skin was devoid of decay. There’s no point trying to assess Kongo’s acting prowess since there isn’t much by way of acting involved. He stomps about, punches, kicks, and crushes people with his bare hands like Tor Johnson with better hand-eye coordination. It truly is rare in this day and age to see a movie monster that manhandles people to death in such brutish fashion.
The military decide to send in their best man to bring down the big man from beyond the grave. It speaks volumes about modern military readiness that the best they have is a mentally unstable soldier suffering from such severe PTSD that not only does he see dead people, he shoots at them! The hero of this film is kept in a locked room where he hallucinates soldiers that died under his command and frequently shoots at them. After all, why wouldn’t you allow a soldier undergoing a psychotic breakdown to keep his sidearm?
Predator meets The Mummy as soldiers trek out into the spacious woodlands in pursuit of the mummified mercenary marching about. Digital bullets keep bouncing off of him like old school Superman effects yet these highly-trained soldiers just keep firing away as if they’re secretly hoping that maybe, just maybe, this next round will be the one that somehow gets through his bulletproof exterior and puts him down. And if bullets don’t work they can always give hand-to-hand combat a-go. In fact, the soldier that tries Jackie Chan-ing him has more success at slowing him down than 1,000 rounds of ammo, a rocket launcher, and vehicular suicide bombing.
It goes without saying that Attila is more than a little silly from its energetic beginning to the overstuffed climax where heads burst into flames and warriors rise from the dead to engage one another in the undead fighting championships. We are talking about a movie that’s opening credits sequence has Attila the Hun and his ancient cohorts attacking a village; their every kick and punch leads to a freeze frame, a credit name, and digital blood splatter appearing over the body part of impact in much the same manner a sound effect word would pop up during a fight on the Sixties’ “Batman” TV show.
Those credits set the tone for the barbaric grilled cheese sandwich to follow; one that is just too inconsistently fun(ny) to fully deliver on its initial promise. Some performances are over-the-top and others are too low-key. Some of the dialogue crackles with b-movie exuberance but a lot of it is too leaden, in part because of the former’s latter. Even the novelty of an ultimate fighter made up like a zombie barbarian fatally pummeling soldiers and scientists to death becomes less novel as the film goes on. Attila most certainly has its moments. It just needed more.
A little more money for the budget wouldn’t have hurt either. I swear the aesthetics of this one reminded me more of an Asylum movie from about five or six years ago. The movie is practically retro by their current Mega animal, Sharknado, blockbuster mockbuster standards.
Still, this is a motion picture where Attila the Hulk takes down a potential captor by spitting out a tooth with such force it puts out the guy’s eye. You just don’t see stuff like that every day.
2 1/2 out of 5